Quantcast

Derailed Train Spills 230,000 Gallons of Crude Into Flooded Iowa River

Energy

A train derailment spilled 230,000 gallons of crude oil into an already-flooded Iowa river Friday, endangering downstream drinking water, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday.

Thirty-two cars of a Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train derailed, 14 of which leaked crude oil into the Rock River in Doon, Iowa. The cause of the derailment is unknown, but officials including Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds attributed it to heavy rain Wednesday and Thursday which led to flooding.


To aid recovery from extreme weather and its consequences, including the derailment, Reynolds issued a proclamation of disaster emergency Saturday for Lyon County, where the train derailed, as well as Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties.

Workers so far have contained nearly half the spill—around 100,000 gallons—using booms, BNSF told Reuters.

The oil spill hit the town of Rock Valley, Iowa, which was coping with its second flood in four years, especially hard.

"Our city administrator said to me, 'The only thing we need now is a plane crash,'" Rock Valley mayor Van Otterloo told the Des Moines Register. "Everything came at once."

Rock Valley acted quickly to shut off water wells following the spill and plans to drain the wells and use rural water until the well water tests safe.

There are also concerns that oil could contaminate drinking water in Omaha, Nebraska, 150 miles downstream, since the Rock River merges with the Big Sioux River, which then feeds into the Missouri. Omaha's Metropolitan Utilities District said they were monitoring water pulled from the Missouri, the Des Moines Register reported. The Metropolitan Utilities District said they could source water from unconnected rivers if needed, according to Reuters.

Reynolds told the Des Moines Register it was still unknown how many communities were affected by the oil spill and how it would impact the surrounding environment.

While none of the initial responses mentioned it, last week's flooding and the resulting derailment could be related to climate change. A pre-Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment of climate change impacts in the Midwest found that precipitation and storms were projected to increase this century, and precipitation in some areas had already increased by 20 percent.

Cristi Moore, who lives in a trailer park near Rock Valley on land that was flooded both in 2014 and 2018, didn't mention climate change but had noticed a difference in the severity of recent floods. She told the Des Moines Register that before 2014, her levees would have been high enough to combat the highest flood levels.

"This is really weird. That's why I'm saying, 'I'm not smart. I don't know. This is an engineer thing,'" Moore told the Des Moines Register. "What's going on that now we're getting flooded again?"

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less
Rebecca Burgess came up with the idea of a fibersheds project to develop an eco-friendly, locally sourced wardrobe. Nicolás Boullosa / CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

If I were to open my refrigerator, the origins of most of the food wouldn't be too much of a mystery — the milk, cheese and produce all come from relatively nearby farms. I can tell from the labels on other packaged goods if they're fair trade, non-GMO or organic.

Read More Show Less
A television crew reports on Hurricane Dorian while waves crash against the Banana River sea wall. Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) met with Bill Gates on Nov. 7 to discuss climate change and ways to address the challenge. Senator Chris Coons

The U.S. Senate's bipartisan climate caucus started with just two members, a Republican from Indiana and a Democrat from Delaware. Now it's up to eight members after two Democrats, one Independent and three more Republicans joined the caucus last week, as The Hill reported.

Read More Show Less
EPA scientists survey aquatic life in Newport, Oregon. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to significantly limit the use of science in agency rulemaking around public health, the The New York Times reports.

Read More Show Less
A timelapse video shows synthetic material and baby fish collected from a plankton sample from a surface slick taken off Hawaii's coast. Honolulu Star-Advertiser / YouTube screenshot

A team of researchers led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration didn't intend to study plastic pollution when they towed a tiny mesh net through the waters off Hawaii's West Coast. Instead, they wanted to learn more about the habits of larval fish.

Read More Show Less